NFL Best of the Decade- Part 6- Defensive Line
Jason Taylor and Michael Strahan dominated their positions in the decade. Strahan played the right side, Taylor the left. Which one was better?
As for the defensive tackles, Sapp has to be number 1, right?
Lets count them down.
Top 10 Defensive Ends
1. Jason Taylor- Taylor was the sack-leader of the decade. He was almost impossible to block one-on-one. Taylor was tall and lean and played more of a finesse style, although, he had underrated power. He did more than just rush the quarterback, he made plays. He was outstanding at stripping the football and had great hands to intercept passes.
2. Michael Strahan- Will be most notably known for breaking the NFL single season sack record of 22.5 in 2001. Strahan may have been the most complete end of the decade. He caused havoc for quarterbacks, but he also excelled in stopping the run. He won the defensive player of the year award in both 2001 and 2003. Strahan retired after the 2007 season after accomplishing his goal, winning a Super Bowl with the Giants. Not a bad way to go out.
3. Richard Seymour- He played stellar in the Patriots 3-4 defensive scheme. He dominated as a 3-4 defensive end, but could also slide inside at defensive tackle in the 4-3. He made essentially every tackle he had to. He didn’t always put up the sack totals, which may make him be looked at in a negative light by casual football fans.
4. Dwight Freeney- His patented spin move caused chaos for opposing offensive tackles in Tony Dungy’s Tampa 2 defense in Indianapolis. Freeney is so quick off the ball, and stays low to the ground. His relentless motor has allowed him to become the Colts all-time sack leader.
5. Julius Peppers- He has all the tools; speed, quickness, power, agility and lateral mobility. The 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year does a little bit of everything. He sacks the quarterback, stops the run and creates turnovers. Peppers also owns the accolade of both making the Super Bowl with Carolina, and the NCAA Final Four with North Carolina.
6. John Abraham
7. Simeon Rice
8. Jared Allen
9. Patrick Kerney
10. Leonard Little
Honorable Mentions- Hugh Douglas, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Aaron Kampman, Aaron Schobel, Robert Mathis, Mario Williams, Osi Umenyiora, Marcellus Wiley, Robert Porcher, Joe Johnson, Jevon Kearse, Aaron Smith, Andre Carter, Kevin Carter, Shaun Ellis
Some Names to Throw Out for Next Decade- Mario Williams, Trent Cole, Justin Tuck, Chris Long, Lawrence Jackson, Derrick Harvey, Robert Ayers, Derrick Morgan, Carlos Dunlap, Tamba Hali
Top 10 Defensive Tackles
1. Warren Sapp- Sapp had unreal speed and agility for his size. He was also very strong and had a non-stop motor. In 2000, Sapp recorded 16.5 sacks, astonishing for a defensive tackle. Sapp demolished inside, stuffing opposing running backs and getting to the quarterback. He caused teams to double and sometimes triple team him.
2. Kevin Williams- I remember watching the 2003 NFL Draft and just laughing at the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the 7th overall pick, and for the 2nd consecutive season, Minnesota couldn’t get their pick in on time. They eventually took the guy they wanted at 9, Kevin Williams. ESPN host Chris Berman made a mockery of Minnesota, and the “experts” insisted that Williams was taken a bit early. I guess it’s Minnesota laughing now as Williams dominated the decade.
3. LaRoi Glover- He was one of the best interior pass rushers of the decade. Glover’s effort was all-out. He was strong, held a wide-base and had exceptional leg drive. Off the field, Glover always gave back to the community. He won the 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
4. Jamal Williams- He was the epitome of a 3-4 nose tackle, squashing running backs and quarterbacks. Williams was massive and it takes a lot to move him. He engages a double-team just about every down. His ability to take up blockers allows the Chargers defensive ends and linebackers to roam free.
5. Kris Jenkins- Another massive tackle with outstanding run-stuffing ability. He was and still is strong and quick. He was one of the main reasons why the Panthers made the Super Bowl in 2003 along with Julius Peppers.
6. Albert Haynesworth
7. Casey Hampton
8. Marcus Stroud
9. Rod Coleman
10. Vince Wilfork
Honorable Mention- Shaun Rogers, Bryant Young, Pat Williams, Anthony McFarland, John Henderson, Tommie Harris, Sam Adams, Trevor Pryce, Cornelius Griffin, Corey Simon
Some Names to Throw Out for Next Decade- Haloti Ngata, Amobi Okoye, Mike Patterson, Domata Peko, Jay Ratliff, Darnell Dockett, Ndamokung Suh, Glenn Dorsey, Sedrick Ellis, B.J. Raji, Gerald McCoy, Brian Price